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Leaders Call for Religious Respect in Health Care Reform

November 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Leaders of faith groups are calling for greater religious respect in the often vociferous health care reform debate. Heads of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and interfaith organizations are standing together to voice support for diversity of religious views, after the U.S. House version of health care reform legislation emerged with language that would expand limits on health care coverage of abortion, even in the private insurance market.

Reverend Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, does not believe it is right to impose one view on everyone when it concerns an issue with so many different meanings, based in religion and personal values. And, he points to polling that shows Americans want to rise above that debate.

"They show significant support across religions for more moderate language to maintain the status quo."

Backers of the so-called "Stupak-Pitts" amendment say it simply continues the tradition of not using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. But Linda Bales Todd, a director of The United Methodist Church, says a closer look shows the amendment would reach into the private market, to set exclusions for a legal medical procedure now routinely covered by insurance.

"Measures like this effectively limit access and delivery of reproductive health care based on one, narrow religious doctrine."

Nine out of ten voters in a recent Mellman Group survey said they do not want abortion views to bog down the progress on health care reform. Forty denominations and religious organizations have joined the call for respect of differing views as the debate continues.

The Mellman Group survey was conducted in late August, polling 1,000 likely voters. The results are online, at http://mfw.bridgelinesw.com.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY